By Jack Bourassa
International Women’s Day (IWD) has been observed since more than a century ago and is now celebrated on March 8. This is not only a day to celebrate, but it’s time to take action. More than a century ago thousands of women were marching in the streets of New York demanding voting rights and better living standards: gender equality, better pay, shorter working hours, access to childcare, etc. The protests turned viral across North America and the world.
Learning about women’s struggles throughout history is important. The victories won benefited everyone, not only women and girls. Taking lessons from history and finding out how to successfully continue in working towards gender equality.
Status of Women Canada is celebrating this year’s IWD with the theme #BecauseOfHer. This inspired me to reflect on why we need to continue celebrating IWD. “Because of her,” our lives are better. “Because of her,” the struggle for social justice continues. “Because of her,” we have a strong labour movement.
If you don’t self-identify as a woman, be an ally. An ally recognizes and acknowledges the unearned privileges in their personal lives, workplaces, communities, etc. Identifying the privileges must lead to taking action to end the ongoing patterns of injustices that many women experience in their lives. This also involves creating and maintaining safe space in our workplaces, schools, communities and families.
An ally must be grateful. While it’s important to recognize and be grateful to women’s rights champions in Canada and across the world, it’s vital to be grateful to the women around us: mothers, sisters, partners, daughters, friends and the many women who have positive impact on our lives.
Few weeks, I wrote a column about celebrating women in our lives and beyond. Many women take no credit for contributing to the economy and their unpaid work is not portrayed of value compared to the paid jobs. “Because of her” sacrifices, we have a better world. “Because of her” cherishing love and care, we’re the people we’re today. But we, collectively, need to do something. If the burden of unpaid work is shared, we’ll have a different world where half of the population have equal access to opportunities. If governments invest in public services, childcare and health, women [and men] would be able to take vital roles in the workforce. If we, collectively, help to achieve pay equity, share the unpaid workload and have better public services, more women would be able to take leadership positions.
The fight for women’s rights is the fight for human rights. Despite the barriers that women continue to face, each time I attend an event or learn about an action that women activists take, I realize that their struggle is a struggle for all of us to have better living standards. Better pay, working conditions, health care and childcare— if those demands are fulfilled, living standards in our communities would be much better for everyone.
We’re stronger together, let’s pledge to end injustices and eradicate the barriers that women face. “Because of her,” we’re stronger.